The first Soyuz test flight was a catastrophic failure. Due to negligence, the attitude control system malfunctioned and used all of its fuel before a rendezvous could be attempted or even the second Soyuz rocket could be launched. When the Soviets attempted to return the first Soyuz to earth, the vehicle’s self-destruct system activated because it was unable to make a landing in the Soviet Union. OKB-1 was disgraced.
After many delays in launching the first Soyuz due to design complications, equipment deliveries, the learning curve for testing new designs, unreasonable launch dates, persecution from the communist party, and the death of Chief Designer Korolev. The first unmanned test flight is nearing launch. Two Soyuz 7k-OK’s have made it through testing. Both Soyuz have been attached to their carrier rocket and are nearly ready to launch. The plan is to launch both vehicles 24 hours apart in order to perform a rendezvous.
“In those days, the Party organizations in industry were not only involved with policy, ideology, and the “struggle against nonconformist thought,” but tried to get involved in technology and production engineering. Wielding real authority over people who were Party members, they had the opportunity to affect the production process. With few exceptions, every chief designer was a Party member. It was far more dangerous to receive a Party reprimand than a reprimand ordered by the head of an enterprise or even a minister.
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a party of power. This was a party that actively meddled in the production process not only from the top—through the Central Committee or Politburo—but also from the bottom. Things did not always turn out as planned, but as a rule, they had the best of intentions. The Party attempted to encompass all aspects of a person’s life with its ideological influence. Any job was supposed to be a “thing of virtue, honor, and heroism,” not for the sake of personal prosperity, but to strengthen the power of the state. “So long as our motherland lives, there are no other cares”—these words succinctly and rather accurately reflected the spirit of a myriad of Party propaganda campaigns. Any deviation from the Party line was punished mercilessly. The Party allowed no liberalism within its ranks.“ Boris Chertok.
After Voskhod-2, an ideological vacuum, disorder, and vacillation cropped up in the Soviet maned space program. There was no clear-cut answer to which project should be the priority, a new series of Voskhods, artificial gravity experiments, or the construction of the Soyuzes. However, during August 1965 the wavering ended. First priority was given to the Soyuzes. A real all-hands rush job to develop and manufacture Soyuzes got underway. A new un-realistic schedule was created that required OKB-1 to supply, three Soyuz flight vehicles ready for testing, two in December of 1965 and one in January of 1966.
The circumlunar plan involved 3 new spacecrafts. First the Soyuz A 7K spacecraft, capable of carrying three men, (2 men for a circumlunar flight) into space and returning them to earth. The 5.5 ton spacecraft has three modules, the orbital module, the re-entry module, and the service module.
The second new spacecraft is the Soyuz B 9K booster stage, with a fueled mass of 18 tons. After docking with the 7K, the 9K is capable of boosting the combined spacecraft out of earth orbit on a course to the moon.
The third new space craft is called Soyuz V 11k tanker. It has a mass of 5 tons. It is used to ferry fuel from the earth to the 9K Booster. It will take 4 tankers to fill the 9K booster with enough fuel to push the Soyuz 7K on a path to the moon.
Hey everyone. I have been sick for a week and unable to talk, without coughing up a lung. But, I didn’t want you to miss your weekly dose of Space Rocket History. My wife agreed to help me out with the vocal part of this episode. This is her first podcast so please be nice to her. Hopefully, I will be able to speak a complete sentence without coughing my head off next week.
I want to thank my wife, Caroline Annis from the bottom of my heart for her help with this episode.
Around noon on January 14th, Boris Chertok was alone in his office studying a folder of classified mail that had accumulated during the past few days. He had asked not to be disturbed. Suddenly his subordinate ran in and shouted, “Sergey Pavlovich died!”
Chertok responded “Are you out of your mind? Which Sergey Pavlovich?”
“Ours, our Sergey Pavlovich Korolev! His wife telephoned from the hospital!”
Chertok stood absolutely dumbfounded, having no idea what to do next. This can’t be! This really shouldn’t be happening! A few seconds later he called the Kremlin for verification.
Sergei Korolev’s life paralleled in many ways the life of Wernher Von Braun. Like Von Braun, as a young man, Sergei Korolev was inspired to dedicate his life to the technology for space exploration after becoming acquainted with the work of a great space pioneer: Hermann Oberth in the case of von Braun, and Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the case of Korolev. Both began their careers in space development through serious study, participation in amateur rocket societies, and then support from the military…